Although a little bit of stress in our lives can be motivational, too much stress can be detrimental to your health, especially if you’re living with a long-term condition.
The Effects of Stress
Everyone is susceptible to the effects of stress. However, living with a long-term health condition can be especially overwhelming. In addition to day-to-day pressures that most people face, managing a condition can add additional stressors to everyday life.
This over-abundance of stress can lead to aches and pains all over the body, most notably in areas where we hold tension such as the back, shoulders, neck, and jaw. Headaches and migraines are other common symptoms. Difficulty falling or staying asleep is one of the most common side effects of stress and can compound the problem. Chest pain can flair with high stress levels, leaving you with shortness of breath and feeling anxious.
People often cope with stress and it’s effects through inactivity, smoking, alcohol and eating unhealthy foods, and those who suffer from long-term stress are more likely to be at risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
Other complications from stress include feeling dizzy or fainting and hot flashes. Stomach problems accompany constant stress, leading to nausea and heartburn. Stress even lowers the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.
Living Life With Less Stress
According to the American Psychological Association, stress is one of the most common complications of chronic illness, with up to one-third of patients experiencing symptoms. It’s important to pay close attention to your own body when living with a long-term condition. Identifying specific triggers of stress can help you develop coping and management strategies, which may involve reducing exposure.
Managing your stress will greatly reduce your symptoms and risk for complications down the road. One of the most important ways to combat stress is to stay physically active. Make it a priority to exercise regularly, even if it’s just a half hour of walking a day. Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga, are also helpful in lowering stress levels. Remember to spend time with friends and family and set aside some alone time to keep up with your hobbies.
Maintain a healthy diet and consider lowering the amount of caffeine you ingest. It’s also important to get plenty of sleep each night. Never turn to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to help manage your stress, as drugs and alcohol will only make symptoms worse.
Using Technology To Ease Stress
It’s often said that our constant cellphone usage is causing us unneeded stress, but you don’t have to put down the smartphone or tablet altogether. In fact, you can use your modern technology to help you manage your stress. Acting as the day-to-day manager of your own health may help you become an active participant in your care journey and improve your quality of life.
Digital health apps have been created to help patients living with long-term conditions. Yet, there are few tools that provide the context for the patient that is grounded in his/her disease state, social determinants of health, habits of daily living, and need for curated health information. That’s where we come in.
With our guided care protocols, patients don’t have to figure it out alone. We take the totality of the user into account, both as a person and as a patient. Our solution provides disease- and stage-appropriate resources that are responsive in real-time to patient inputs. For example, patients are reminded to keep up with medications throughout the day, to attend scheduled healthcare appointments, and to measure vitals. These mechanisms empower patients to actively participate in their health management and can effectively circumvent stress.
It’s important to remember that stress responses are both psychological and physical in nature. Whether eliminating certain stressors from life or seeking out stress-relieving measures, each step should be approached with long-term health goals in mind.
Wearable technology can keep track of your vitals, alerting you when your blood pressure spikes and even letting you know when it’s time to drink some water. Even if you don’t have access to a digital health app such as Veta Health, you can keep track of your mood and health through traditional journaling methods.
Note: If stress continues to have a negative impact on your life, it may be time to speak with your doctor. Regular counseling or therapy can teach you personalized ways to manage and cope with your stress and the situations that may be causing it.